Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My 'Balimbing Story' at Rafael's Farm

As friend and I talked, I saw some birds hopping from branch to branch and leaf to leaf. I already heard them the moment we stepped into the gazebo with a swing. There were at least 3 kinds of birds, the chirpy tiny black shiny ones with reddish beaks and yellowish chests, some brownish blackish greenish ones, and earth-brown birds bigger than my fists. these latter ‘bigger’ birds were mostly feeding on things scattered on the grass. Were those fruits?

I went nearer to investigate… they indeed were fruits… hundreds of them all fallen from the trees and in various stages of decomposition. I picked a newly fallen fruit from the ground and immediately realized it was Balimbing! Yeah, the “star fuit”! Wow, like how many decades ago have I last tasted one? Many! So I looked up to see where these fruits were falling from. Wohoa! Too many of them already ripe for the birds to peck at (reason why they fall) and too many more just waiting to become ripe. A few were hanging not even a foot up from my forehead! So I dropped the fallen fruit and reached out for one and ate it! Ah, nature!

Eating that first fruit like transported me back to my childhood years. Hey I still know how to expertly remove the edges of the five ridges with my front teeth! And oh boy was I having a ‘fruitful’ feast! That first fruit was followed by another, and yet another, and still another! In a sweep, I have eaten 5! The friend joined in, we were just picking the ripe fruits that our hands can reach from any of them trees. What a great feeling! Suddenly we were joking that this was one fantastic example of that cliché that says “the best things in life are free”. And I appended that with “but only God can make a tree”!

A waiter saw us picking fruit and eating them, but he just smiled with a bow! So we guessed what we were doing was all okay to them!

Folks, if you get to Alredo’s Farm, don’t do this… After eating my 7th Balimbing, I still wanted more and saw a bigger one that was already colored dark yellow, therefore very ripe. But I could not reach it, and I did not want to climb this tree. So I grabbed the branch and shook it. Oh my Mano Rene! A lot of already ripe Balimbing fell on the ground and we went crazy choosing which ones we wanted and could still eat pronto! I should have not shaken that branch tsk tsk tsk. They were all ripe yes, but I wouldn’t have felt guilty if they fell by the birds’ actions or by the blowing breeze. Nature ba! So, never shake a branch full of ripe Balimbing when not harvesting!

Oh well, eating Balimbing, re-bonding with the friend talking of just about anything in that ‘nothing area’ at Alfredo’s was THE life it made us forget about time. Next thing we realized, it was already 2:14PM, and we hurried out of the farm, and the friend like flew on the highway straight to the airport, for me to catch my 3:30PM flight. But I do remember I told one waitress that they should pick the ripe pieces of Balimbing and served after meals ‘on the house’ (free), instead of letting them just fall to the ground and rot back to earth!

Whew! I reached the check-in counters where a “CLOSED” sign was already posted below my flight number. But charm and being a frequently seen face I think, got me through hehe. I heard the radio-wielding girl say “sige na, sige na, waray ito check-in baggage hi sir” To which I added a gratefully smiling “always”! That, as a friend from PAL Tacloban came to tap my shoulder saying “5J ka na naman? di ka na yata sumasakay sa PR ah”! To which my 5J check-in staff giggly said “bakit, masama ba?” And we bantered a bit until the radio-wielding woman came to say “sir, final call”! So I rushed to enter the pre-departure area, straight to the boarding gate!

What a Balimbing story!


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Aw okay folks, some things I learned that you might wanna know:

Rafael’s Farm is (actually) not really in Tacloban but already in the town of Babatngon, Leyte - adjacent and next to Tacloban City on its northern border.

It’s not that near. It is about 11kms from that big intersection alone where going right is to the San Juanico Bridge and going straight is to Babatngon. So I think, that should be about 20kms if measured from Tacloban’s city center.

If you don’t have your own vehicle, a commuter jeep ride going to Babatngon is your only way, and they come far in between like sometimes even an hour or more. So, not really for just anyone who may have a few minutes to spare. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to find a habal-habal in the city or from that famed corner to San Juanico Bridge. Am not sure trikes regularly ply this long route but I’ve seen some.

After that San Juanico intersection, try looking on both sides of the road. They’re picturesque rice fields especially during early mornings and late afternoons. Their colors vary depending on the season. Brownish black, when the paddies are still wet and being prepared for planting; green to lush green as the palay grows; yellow-gold on green when ready for harvest yellow-orange to bright brown when harvest was just about finished and the dried stalks remain. Then it cycles again!

Averrhoa carambola. is the scientific name of Balimbing. They call it “star fruit” in English because of the shape when cut cross-wise. Hey did you know this thing is named similarly in Malaysia and Indonesia? Well, there is a one-letter difference in the spelling since theirs is “belimbing” where the “be” is pronounced something like a cross between how you say the “bi” in bird and the “bu” in burn.

Finally, as for “Rafael’s Farm and Restaurant”, I know I’ll be back! For nothing!



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1 comment :

  1. I would like to experience "nothing" at Rafael's too. I hope the balembing still bearing fruits when we go this summer :)

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